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Sex Sting Nabs Alleged Child Predators

Sex Sting Nabs Alleged Child Predators

Posted: Friday, May 6, 2016 in the Appealdemocrat.com

By Monica Vaughan/mvaughan@appealdemocrat.com

The child sex sting that led to a Yuba City planning commissioner’s arrest and subsequent resignation was part of a months-long, resource-intensive operation that resulted in criminal charges filed against five other men.

The most recent arrests were Tuesday night, when two men were hancuffed and questioned after they separately showed up at a meeting location where they presumably planned to have sex with 9- and 14-year-old girls.

“They’re predators in our community. They’re looking for kids to have sex with. Grown men are looking for children to have sex with,” said Jason Parker, chief investigator at the Sutter County Districk Attorney’s Office, which is coordinating the stings.

“When we set operations up, we know these guys are out there. Our goal is to go after them.”

While similar stings have been conducted across the country for years, this is the first sting in Yuba-Sutter to focus on child sex crimes. It was created and led by District Attorney Amanda Hopper, with support from the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office, the Yuba City Police Department and an outside organization, Operation Underground Railroad.

“Much of public safety is reacting to crime after it occurs. This operation was proactive,” Hopper told the AppealDemocrat in her first public statements about the operation.

Men who were arrested in the Sutter County stings are accused of reaching out to what they believe to be people offering children for sex. They allegedly clearly communicated what they would do with the minors, and showed up at a pre-arranged meeting, presumably with the intent to rape or molest children.

Defense attorneys representing men arrested in the stings, who were contacted by the Appeal-Democrat, said they were not yet familiar enough with the operation to provide a statement.

While the sting operation is seemingly bait to trap would-be perpetrators, Deputy District Attorney Clint Curry said it isn’t entrapment.

“A person is entrapped if a law enforcement officer engages in conduct that would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit that crime,” Curry said. “It’s an objective test. It doesn’t matter subjectively what’s in the suspect’s mind. It looks at behavior of the government agent.”

In this operation, detectives don’t offer people any motivation or reason to come to the meeting, he said. For example, he said, they don’t say “If you have sex with this child, she will be freed from slavery.”

Staff from Operation Underground Railroad assisted the agencies in implementing the plan.

“We’re a small rural community with limited resources,” Hopper said. “Operation Underground Railroad provided the support, experience and education and resources that we would not otherwise have.”

“One of the things the District Attorney’s Office agrees with Operation Underground Railroad in, is the need to educate people about how real child sexual exploitation is, and that it’s here and it’s everywhere.”

Each operation required hours of commitment from officers in three law enforcement agencies, Hopper said.

Details were not immediately available about how much staff time the operation cost.

“Every person there (Tuesday) had already worked full days and nights, and then more days. They put in the hours because they wanted to, because they had the opportunity to do good for Sutter County and to protect its children,” Hopper said.

Sheriff J. Paul Parker said it’s “absolutely” worth it for four or five of his deputies to work flex time or overtime to participate.

While most arrests of suspected sexual predators are made after a victim comes forward, the crimes the men caught in this sting operation allegedly committed have no real victims.

“It’s cheaper to intercept (these crimes) before they occur than after they occur,” he said.

After a sex crime has been committed against a child, “you have a victim, someone who has been traumatized for the rest of their life. How do you put a monetary value on that? You can’t.” This (operation) is a fiscally conservative approach,” Parker said. I think it’s been very successful.”

The suspects

The seven arrested men don’t seem to share any traits aside from their gender.

“We’ve seen 18-years-old, 50-years-old, economically well-to-do and we’ve seen dirt poor. We’ve seen different racial groups represented,” said Deputy District Attorney Clint Curry. “The only thing they have in common is they have a penis.”

Aside from Ivin Rhyne Jr., a former Yuba City planning commissioner who works with the California Energy Commission, most of the men caught in the sting live in the Sacramento Valley, but outside of Yuba-Sutter.

Jeffery M. Albo, 50 from Washington state, told investigators he was in the area as a contractor for three weeks at Beale Air Force Base.

Albo and Timothy L. Neher, 40, were arrested Tuesday evening, after they separately showed up at different times at the meeting location. Both are married with children, according to court documents.

Charges filed against them in Sutter County Superior Court on Thursday include felonies for attempting to perform sexual acts with a child and for arranging and appearing at a meeting with the intent to perform sex acts with a child. The most serious count is punishable by night years in prison.

Law enforcement officials involved in the operation say the men are predators, and the operation allows those men to be weeded out. The point was argued Thursday during Albo’s arraignment in front of Judge Christopher Chandler.

Although Albo has no criminal history, “This is the kind of crime that happens in secret,” Curry said. “It takes a lot of resources for law enforcement to ferret out.”

Albo’s attorney, Chris Carlos, argued Albo has never been arrested, and it’s “not appropriate to say he might have something out there. (He has) no criminal history.”

Assuming Albo did what officers say he did, “he made a mistake,” Carlos told the judge.

How it works

Each sting operation requires weeks of preparation. From start to finish, some 20 officers are involved.

“Every cop who works these goes, ‘This is what law enforcement is about. This is what I always wanted to do’,” Parker said.

On Tuesday evening, more than a dozen detectives gathered at a remote location to await the arrival of a suspect. Undercover officers posed to meet the suspect, as clearly armed officers on arrest teams waited nearby, prepared to cuff the suspect after a signal was communicated.

The suspect said he would meet at the spot when he left work.

In the days leading to the meeting, he and a few other men communicate with an undercover detective who claimed to have access to children available for sexual acts. There was no discussion of an exchange of money, only an interest in sex with children.

Audio and video surveillance was wired in the meeting location, which officers observed in a nearby room.

“Our hopes would be that we set up an operation and have no one respond,” Parker said.

That hasn’t been the case. At least on arrest has been made each of the five times detectives set up a location. On several occasions, men have expressed interest and arranged a meeting but never showed up.

“That’s not a bad thing,” Hopper said. “If they are legitimately hesitant about raping children, I want them to back out.”

The first target suspect on Tuesday did not back out. As soon as he arrive, he was arrested. During a search, officers found in his possession condoms and a bottle lubricant, Parker said.

He gave short answers.

Detectives off-site listened to the interview through a baby monitor.

After he was driven away to be booked into Sutter County Jail, detectives stayed on site and prepared for the next suspect’s arrival.

Arrested and charged

David Ignacio Chavarin, 33 of North Highlands.

Nicolas Davide Brown, 26, of Oroville.

Howard Montenegro, 44 of Sacramento.

Timothy Leroy Neher, 40 Chico.

Jeffery Michael Albo, 50, of Edmonds, Wash.

Professional baseball player observes sting

Former White Sox baseball player Adam LaRoche was present with Sutter County law enforcement officers to observe a child sex sting operation on Tuesday evening.

“After my experience overseas, I went on a quest to find out more about trafficking. That’s when I cam in contact with Operation Underground Railroad and was invited to Sutter County,” LaRoache said in statement provided to the Appeal-Democrat.

“Everyone who was present in Tuesday’s operation has an interest in protecting children,” said Sutter Coutny District Attorney Amanda Hopper, whose office coordinated the sting.

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER? #Rescue 500

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER? #Rescue 500

Total To Date: 529 Rescued – 182 Arrested
(2014-2016 )

In April 2016 O.U.R. hit the 500 mark for the number of rescues of victims of sex trafficking. Far more than its founder, Tim Ballard, was able to accomplish in the 10 years he worked with Homeland Security rescuing children from sex traffickers.

Currently O.U.R. is averaging four to five rescues per month. The exact number of victims rescued as of this writing is 529, but Ballard will tell you it’s not the numbers that count. “We are action focused,” said Ballard. The quantifiable numbers show our progress, but they only tell a part of the story.”

One of the most important areas of success can’t really be measured. It is the deterrent effect. And that is the result of catching traffickers and pedophiles before they can get to their targets.

“There are children out there right now who will never be trafficked because the people that would have trafficked them are in jail,” said Ballard. “And they don’t even know they would have been trafficked because it never happened. You can’t measure that.”

The second deterrent is the fear of getting caught. With O.U.R.’s successes, many traffickers are now afraid to sell children where O.U.R. has been operating, and pedophiles are afraid to buy them. O.U.R.’s jump team verified this recently when returning to areas where they had previously conducted stings, working undercover, trying to buy children. The traffickers informed them that it is now very dangerous and they will no longer sell children. This is the goal O.U.R. hopes to replicate all over the world.

Operation Underground Railroad first began rescuing children two and a half years ago in developing countries where resources are limited and children are most vulnerable due to poverty and cultural issues. O.U.R. always works within the law and with law enforcement in a public/private partnership that is resulting in a very successful model.

Law enforcement in the United States is taking notice of O.U.R.’s impressive record in these developing countries and some areas of the country are now partnering with O.U.R. to help supplement their meager budgets since O.U.R. does not charge for their services.

To date O.U.R. has helped law enforcement in the U.S. rescue eight children and arrest 47 potential pedophiles. And according to O.U.R.’s COO Jerry Gowen, the arrests are the number we should be paying attention to because for every pedophile taken off the streets, numerous children will never be violated.

O.U.R. is leveraging technology to help eradicate pornography and shine a light on the problem of child sex abuse in the United States as well as other countries. “We’re helping rescue children in so many ways,” said Gowen. As we get more resources we’ll do even more.” O.U.R. is currently operating in Southeast Asia, South, Central and North America and The Caribbean with the goal of one day eliminating child sex trafficking all over the globe.

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

Aftercare with O.U.R.

Aftercare with O.U.R.

Editor’s Note: The following description of Operation Underground Railroad’s Aftercare program is written by the director of aftercare for O.U.R. and is intended to give you an idea of how O.U.R is helping the children it rescues. 

The keyword in Operation Underground Railroad Aftercare truly is “Collaboration”.

We are committed to the journey of supporting survivors in their healing process. At this time, O.U.R. has found the most effective model is partnering, empowering and supporting in-country organizations, safe homes and aftercare centers.

Through collaboration we have been able to support the care of survivors far beyond what we would have been able to do on our own. In order to be most effective, we believe that people who have already invested years in the country are the experts and understand the culture far greater than those who do not live there. It is the desire of O.U.R. Aftercare that we come in with a servant’s heart and an empowering spirit.

Aftercare also works directly in collaboration with the O.U.R. Jump Team and government officials to communicate the needs and potential aftercare centers for children. We then assist in the communication to the center about upcoming rescues and the predicted needs, such as additional social workers and medical professionals in-country.

It is the current practice of O.U.R. Aftercare that before an operation, we build partnerships with in-country aftercare centers that will be able to provide quality holistic care through the healing process of the trauma of trafficking. We believe in ensuring that a survivor has the resources to receive as much aftercare services as needed. We also continue to build on the generous support of individuals and corporations to increase the amount of humanitarian aid and aftercare assistance from O.U.R.

Due to the generous support of many individuals and partnerships, we are also able to provide humanitarian aid based on the need and specific request of the aftercare center. We believe in providing strategic humanitarian aid that is empowering to the center’s short and long term goals.

Summary:

We believe that established, vetted aftercare centers are the experts in their country and we are servants. Servants that believe in empowering dreams, visions and hope for each survivor’s future. United we stand in the fight against human trafficking and the healing process of victims that become thriving survivors.

RIDE THE RAILROAD: Charity Bike Ride

RIDE THE RAILROAD: Charity Bike Ride

By Donovan Baltich

Mark never imagined himself sitting across the table from a CEO and executives of a major corporation — at least, not until after he graduated from high school.

But that’s just how far the 17-year-old from Irvine, California was willing to go to raise money and awareness for Operation Underground Railroad’s mission. Mark Tenney’s campaign, “Ride the Railroad,” has been in development for a year and will kick off this July. With a goal of raising $250,000, it is well on its way with $96,000 pledged thus far.

Mark and his brother met O.U.R. founder Tim Ballard when he came to the Tenney’s house for dinner and to share O.U.R.’s mission. “My brother and I were just so impressed — what a self-less job, rescuing kids. We wanted to help out by telling all our friends about it,” Mark said. “We always thought about how we could raise money for this organization, but I’m not in a position to donate a large sum of money myself.”

The Tenneys are a family of cyclists — and living in Irvine, they know many other cyclists. Mark came up with the idea to have a 450-mile bicycle race down the coast of California, from Santa Cruz to Laguna, during the week of July 26–30.

But individual contributions wouldn’t be enough to reach a quarter-of-a-million in funds for rescuing kids, so Mark reached out to corporations for sponsorships.

“The first time I met with a potential corporate sponsor, it was with Golden State Foods, and I was really intimidated sitting across from the CEO and other executives, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you become,” he said.

“Ride the Railroad” won’t start for another two months, hopefully allowing the campaign to pick up its final contributions to reach its goal, which would fund five separate missions at $50,000 a piece.

“It will all be worth it — all the hard work and time we’ve done — is all worth it, and I’m excited to see it happen,” Mark said.

Mark’s mother, Elizabeth Tenney, estimates her family has put in more than 1,000 hours preparing for the “Ride the Railroad” campaign, and Mark alone, five–ten hours a week. O.U.R.’s mission has affected every member of the Tenney family. “The people involved in O.U.R. are so special. They’re not just good people; they’re exceptionally good people,” Elizabeth said.

Anyone can make a difference; Mark is proof of that. You can follow his lead by starting your own campaign or supporting someone else’s. Since September 2014, 92 abolitionists have created campaigns, and they’ve raised $299,020.73 through YourRescue.org.

Raising money for Operation Underground Railroad has never been easier with the launch of YourRescue.org site. On the page, you can start your own campaign or browse dozens of others to get involved in.

The possibilities for your own campaign are endless: from dance parties at Cal State Fullerton to collecting donations at your band’s shows. One community in Bountiful, Utah hosted a silent auction, a race and an event night with Tim Ballard, raising more than $100,000.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN YOURrescue CAMPAIGN

Whether big or small, follow these eight tips to create an impactful YOURrescue Campaign.

1. Make the first donation. Listen: you can get the momentum going before you’ve even written your first fund request. Donate to the cause you believe in to get the ball rolling.

2. Send out emails. Your friends are dying to get something more meaningful in their inbox. They are good people who are happy to help. Send out personalized emails to the people you know before reaching out to the people you don’t. Just take two paragraphs to explain your cause, your goals and how they can donate to your campaign. Link to O.U.R. pages and stories that moved you. Don’t be afraid to follow up, and make sure to say thank you for every donation.

3. Announce your campaign via social media. We love social media! Let everyone on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram know what you’re doing and how they can help. Here are 140 characters to help you get started: Children all over the world are ensnared in the horrors of human trafficking. We can change that. Join my campaign: (link to your campaign here.)

4. Reach out to your inner circle. Call, email and send notes to your mom, dad, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and that kindergarten teacher you’ve kept in touch with for three decades. They are interested in your cause and will want to help you make a difference.

5. Utilize grassroots marketing. Call your local newspaper, local news station and local radio shows. Ask them how you can work together to raise awareness.

6. Do giveaways. Approach local businesses to see if they will donate to your campaign.

For example, do you know someone who makes the most amazing holiday wreaths? Ask them to give one wreath to every person who donates more than $50. Your giveaways will publicize the products of the participating business while also giving incentives for more donations.

7 Have fun. Your campaign can be a blast! Hold fundraising events that you’d want to be a part of even if you weren’t involved in planning them; get your friends involved, hold bake sales, or sell vintage clothing in pop-up shops. Use this as an opportunity to get creative while making a difference.

8 Remember, no matter how much you raise – from $5 to $50,000 – you are using your time to help children. We are grateful and they are grateful and you’ve made a meaningful difference.

THE ABOLITIONISTS: MAKING THE MOVIE

THE ABOLITIONISTS: MAKING THE MOVIE

Editor’s Note: This story was originally written during the making of the film. Portions have been updated to reflect the completion of the movie.

__________________________

Imagine being right there with the Jump Team when they rescue the guarded children who are being used as pawns in a sick game of sex. Imagine seeing the startled faces of the depraved men as they are being arrested for prostituting them. Or, perhaps you’d like to go undercover and play the “bad guy” who is buying the innocents.

It may not be possible for you to witness any of these things first hand, but a film crew is following the people who do it all, and have now turned it into a major motion picture called The Abolitionists. This Monday, you will have a front row seat to all these experiences “up close and personal.”

FletChet Entertainment owners Darrin Fletcher and Chet Thomas have been working with Operation Underground Railroad, documenting O.U.R. Founder and CEO Tim Ballard’s every move as he finds the children, works with officials, and has the bad guys arrested.

“Our goal was to make it as cinematic as possible. We wanted this to feel like you are part of the team. You’re literally going to see it up close. It’s gritty and it’s real and sad and heroic,” said Fletch of FletChet Entertainment.

The Abolitionists Film Crew in Nicaragua
The Abolitionists Film Crew in Nicaragua

Safety is always a concern for the Jump Team as well as the camera crew. “It doesn’t feel dangerous when you’re out there but when you’re back, it looks a lot more dangerous,” observed Fletch. Security dictates what the film crew can and cannot do. They use about 20 small Contour cameras that are attached to guns, helmets, hats, and hidden in rooms.

It’s not infrequent to go to places where they get patted down so they also use Pocket Cinema Cameras that work well in low light and blend in, making the film crew look more like tourists than documentarians. So far, they’ve used the cameras in Colombia, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and the United States with great success.

The “star” of the show is Tim Ballard, owner and founder of Operation Underground Railroad. It’s pretty much his journey of saving kids. Fletch says he is the perfect host and could make it in Hollywood if he wanted to. Fortunately for all, he’d rather be helping children.

According to Fletch, if there were a second star of the film it would be “Batman.” No, not THAT Batman. It’s a code name for a very unassuming man who helps O.U.R. find traffickers. Fletch describes him as one who is very comfortable everywhere he goes.

“I don’t know how he does it. He goes into these places and I can’t look. I look at the ground. Then I think I have to start looking because I’m drawing attention to myself. I look up and he’s right at home. Just at ease working undercover arranging buying little girls.”

Batman was telling a story that was so disturbing that I cut my camera. Chet cut his camera. You don’t see any graphic images. It’s all very clean, except for your mind’s eye in that moment.

san pedro

In Cartagena the film crew stumbles upon a beautiful cathedral and sends Chet, with his “sliver tongue” to find out what it’s all about and see if they can film inside. He comes back with a 93-year-old priest who gives them a tour of San Pedro Clavier Cathedral.

Inside is a glass coffin of San Pedro. It is the perfect backdrop for filming the meeting between the priest and Tim Ballard. The priest says Cartagena was the corner pin for bringing slaves to America and that San Pedro would see the slaves arrive and go and smile at them so they would at least see one friendly face.

“It’s a great story. There are really great stories about heroes who, in their own right, should be abolitionists,” said Fletch. The irony of the former slaves and today’s trafficked children is not lost on the film crew.

To ensure the quality of the film, Chet and Fletch enlisted Academy Award winner Jerry Molen as Executive Producer, someone Chet has worked with for many years. Molen may be best known for working with Stephen Spielberg on Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and The Minority Report.

Fletch says that although Jerry comes from an executive level, he is very much involved in the making of the film. “Once we had a cut that we’re happy with, Jerry would watch it and give us some notes and we would implement those. He’s also very well connected so his name still calls down a lot of power.”

And they’re all hoping that power and quality of work will win the film some attention and notoriety; not for them so much as to shine a light on the issue of child trafficking which will hopefully create more awareness and fund more rescues.

Funding for the film has come from private investors so as not to take any funds away from those who are rescuing the children. The Abolitionists will be released in 600 movie theaters across the United States this Monday, May 16th.

In making the film Fletch has discovered a disturbing truth. “I’ve learned people will do anything for money and there are good people and bad people everywhere. In our film we make a very strong attempt to ensure that the countries we’re in don’t look bad. We make very sure that there’s also a good story in the place where we go.”

Operation Underground Railroad is now hoping this movie will start a movement that will cause people to rise up and help rescue these children from slavery. Everyone can become an abolitionist.

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

The Abolitionists‘ website

The Abolitionists: Movie Trailer

Buy Movie Tickets here

Emerging From The Shadows

Emerging From The Shadows

 

Anna’s Life in Aftercare

The following story was written by one of the Operation Underground Railroad team members who oversees aftercare for the children it rescues. This is an update on a young girl O.U.R. rescued in Africa a little less than a year ago. She was just fourteen when she was raped, then kidnapped and eventually made a child bride. She was pregnant when O.U.R. rescued her and had the perpetrator arrested. He is currently serving time in jail for the crime.

Anna
There is no “one-size-fits-all” after a child is rescued from sexual slavery. However, when a survivor is provided resources, counseling and people who truly invest in one’s life you often see the birth of hope. This is the story of Anna, a young teenager who has been through the worst horrors that this life can produce, and yet, she has hope beyond understanding.

I last visited with Anna in December 2015. I got to see the infancy of hope in her as she sang Amazing Grace and told me that she wanted to do something with music when she got older but wasn’t sure what.

I could not be happier to report my most recent observations and interactions with Anna. She is not just surviving but is thriving in many areas. While “thriving” is defined very differently based on the individual, one thing is consistent; hope.

This visit I did not even make it back into the home before I saw her with a bright smile coming out to the patio. She walked with a confidence and glow that only comes when one is experiencing restoration.

Through generous donated gifts, O.U.R. was able to give Anna clothes, books, nail polish, puzzles, jewelry, and clothes and toys for her baby boy. Her gratefulness about the new items would inspire anyone to sacrifice a meal to provide her with things she can call “her own.” The true gift she said was, “Thank you! I feel loved.”

She kept looking at the different nail polishes, so I asked her if she was good at painting nails. Without missing a beat and with a huge smile on her face, she said, “Yes, I am very good at painting nails.” So, of course, any woman who hears this offers her unpainted nails to be used as practice. Anna graciously offered to paint my nails, but it wasn’t just “painting nails.” There was a beautiful pride she had as if communicating her feeling and belief that she has so much to give back to the world.

Uganda Aftercare 2

For all those who stand with us, I hope you know the gifts you give out of love are received not just as “items” but are also received with the same spirit of love. While we are a world apart, we are yet united in love through the healing process of restored hope.

O.U.R. also had the privilege of spending quality time building a relationship with Anna, her baby, and one of the social workers at the center by taking them out to eat at the local mall. Anna stated that she had never been to the mall.

When we all arrived, Anna’s eyes were so big as she looked around at all the different stores. When asked where she wanted to eat, she confidently pointed toward the restaurant on the second floor. She is showing so much growth, finding strength to express her desire with confidence that her opinions matter.

Over lunch Anna shared that she was excited about going back to school in a few weeks. Anna also stated she had a better idea of what she wanted to do after she graduated from secondary (high school). She hopes to become a businesswoman, open a music studio and incorporate being a DJ within her business.

I observed that Anna has grown so much over the last couple of months through the care she is receiving at the aftercare center in Africa. She still has a long journey ahead of her and obstacles to overcome. However, what if no one had come to rescue her?

O.U.R. has been blessed to rescue so many children around the world from the horrors of sexual slavery; but if O.U.R. was created just for this one precious life, it has all been worth it. Anna has hope for her future and believes she will accomplish her dreams. She is truly an inspiration to all of us to invest in the lives of others.

To help “Anna” and others like her please go to OURrescue.org

 

Changing The World

Changing The World

 

A Night At “The Abolitionists” Film

The lights came back on and the audience just sat there, amazed, following a special screening of the movie The Abolitionists (PG-13). They clapped, they cried, and they were inspired to do something.

The feature length film follows Operation Underground Railroad’s jump team around the world as they plan and execute rescue missions of children enslaved in sex trafficking all around the world. It shows the joys of rescue as well as the struggles of working with evil. And it’s coming to movie theaters across the country May 16 th for one special night.

Audience member Stephanie Davis said, “It was very powerful, very well done. This is a dark subject and this is a great way to reach people and educate them. I want to do something.”

Danielle Swopes said, “I cried the whole time. The part where she sold the two kids – it just seems so remote. It’s heartbreaking. It totally kills your faith in humanity. But it was restored by what O.U.R. is doing.”

Andrew McCovins said, “I thought the film was awesome – very realistic. I like three different plots and I love the cause anyway. I just made a donation.”

This private screening was put together by a man who works in real estate investment funds by day, but is an O.U.R. jump team member by night. He invited his business associates, clients and friends to the screening. “In this theater there are 500 people with a net worth of ten billion dollars,” he said. His aim was to raise money to help rescue children from sex trafficking immediately following the showing of the film.

As the movie ended, “Paul” got up and started telling the audience what it’s been like working with O.U.R. and helping to rescue the children. As he spoke a slide was projected onto the screen with a number to text to donate, and the money started trickling in; small amounts at first and then it began to take off.

Paul finished speaking and O.U.R.’s Founder and CEO Tim Ballard took the spotlight and told everyone how Paul has helped O.U.R. as well as the children.

Next up was Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. He spoke about his experience on Operation Triple Take and alerting the audience to the fact that sex trafficking is one of the greatest issues of our time with 20 to 40 million men, women, and children trapped in slavery today.

Paul came back to the stage to announce the total amount that had just been raised. Everyone clapped but it was way short of Paul’s goal. Pledge cards were passed out and a special auction was held for a limited number of private dinners with Tim Ballard and Sean Reyes.

Now the donation total continued to climb, but some people were starting to leave. Unfazed, Paul continued to tell how O.U.R. had changed his life and how pornography and sex trafficking are the plague of this generation. The more he talked, the more the money came pouring in.

AUDIENCE

The evening ended with a final plea from Paul to help rescue these enslaved children and he wasn’t disappointed. Audience members opened their hearts and their wallets and helped Paul meet his goal. And the best part is that the essential oils company doTERRA is matching whatever Paul was able to raise this night. A true gift that O.U.R. is extremely grateful for.

Now Operation Underground Railroad is asking you to step up to the plate. If you are able to host a movie theater on May 16th and fill it with associates, clients, and friends, O.U.R. would love to show you how to do it. Just contact us at jend@ourrescue.org. Following the screening there will be a special Q & A with O.U.R.’s Founder and CEO Tim Ballard shown in the theaters.

O.U.R. knows not everyone has the fundraising abilities of a “Paul,” but large companies and corporations can sponsor a theater and fill it with their corporate family and friends. Theater sponsorships range from $2000-$5000, depending on the seating capacity of the theater.

“There are a total of 600 theaters currently available to O.U.R. by AMA, Cinemark, and Regal,” said Marketing Director Hugh Vail. “Now it’s our responsibility to fill them.”

If you are more of a movie “attendee” rather that a movie “sponsor” you can help by telling your friends and family about the movie and attending the screening at a movie theater near you on May 16th. Ticket information is available by clicking here, and a percentage of all movie sales will go to help rescue children from slavery.

Some people have expressed concern about the content of the movie. “They don’t know if they’re going to see pornography. They don’t know if they’re going to hear swearing, but once they view it they say, ‘It was very well done,’ and become abolitionists and want to do something,” said Vail. The PG-13 rating is related to the subject matter. There is no pornography or swearing.

The Abolitionists’ Executive Producer Jerry Molen, who co-produced Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park, among many other award winning films, wanted to make sure this movie would be uplifting and inspiring. Now in his 70s, he calls it his “Swan Song,” and hopes it will leave a lasting impression on all who see it.

The main goal of the film is to in bring awareness to this modern-day plague and inspire people to do something about it. “The big thing about this movie is that it’s a catalyst for a movement,” said Vail. “It has the ability to change the world.”

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

Links:

The Abolitionists Movie Trailer

How to Sponsor a Movie Theater: email Jend@ourrescue.org                                                 

Buy Tickets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HR515 – International Megan’s Law Passes

HR515 – International Megan’s Law Passes

HR515 – International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders.

Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R), New Jersey

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President Obama signed an international version of Megan’s Law on February 8, 2016, requiring countries be notified when a previously convicted sex offender enters their sovereign space. “This is a huge win for children everywhere,” said Operation Underground Railroad Founder and CEO Tim Ballard.

Ballard testified at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Washington, D.C. in support of the bill over a year ago telling the committee, “The fact that we are talking about child victims should cause us, on a moral level, to find ways to remove barriers that prevent international engagement.”

The international law authorizes the United States to alert foreign countries when a convicted registered child sex offender is entering their country. As part of that effort the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has expanded the efforts of the Angel Watch Center.

“ICE’s Operation Angel Watch plays a crucial role in the global fight against child sex tourism, said ICE Director Sara R. Saldana. Under this unique and innovative initiative, we are able to send actionable information to our law enforcement partners around the globe so that they can assess the situation and respond appropriately, whether that is to deny an individual entry into their country, or to monitor that individual’s travel for potential danger to children. The creation of a formalized and expanded Angel Watch Center further enhances our efforts to protect children around the world,” Saldana said in a press release from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Initially created in 2007 by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Operation Angel Watch is managed by the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit of the ICE Cyber Crimes Center and is a joint effort with U.S. Customs and Border (CBP) and the U.S. Marshals Services.”

“Operation Angel Watch targets individuals who have been previously convicted of sexual crimes against a child and who may pose a potential new threat: traveling overseas for the purpose of sexually abusing or exploiting minors, a crime known as ‘child sex tourism,” according to their press release.

HR515 sends a signal to countries around the world that the United States is anxious to protect children at home and abroad by tracking convicted child predators. It also encourages foreign countries to increase their efforts to combat the sex tourist industry and shine a light on areas where sex trafficking is a thriving business. Currently it is an estimated 37 billion dollar industry.

The notification of registered pedophiles consistently visiting specific areas highlights a tolerance and vulnerability. This is a large area of focus for O.U.R. with our Law Enforcement Systems Division which attempts to identify the problem and counter that vulnerability. It is O.U.R.’s belief that such a law will help stem the tide of sex trafficking among children, approximately two million of whom are being sold for sex internationally.

Megan’s Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, who was brutally raped and murdered in 1994 by the man who lived across the street from her family in New Jersey. They had no idea a convicted sex offender lived so close to them. The man, Jesse Timmendeuas, had previously been twice convicted of sex crimes against small children, yet the family had no way of knowing that.

Three months following that heinous crime, New Jersey passed Megan’s Law, officially known as The Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994, which required convicted sex offenders to be placed on a sex registry list.

The Kankas family hopes no one ever has to endure what they did. They’ve been tirelessly working to help others prevent that. Due to their prodding, many states followed suite, but not all; that is, until a federal bill was passed in 1996, requiring all states to provide this information to the general public, with the goal of protecting the innocent.

That federal law has now become an international law with HR515 being signed by the president. Operation Underground Railroad is proud to play a part in helping this bill to pass; and it will greatly enable O.U.R. in finding sex abusers and traffickers of children. The Megans of the world will be much safer now because of it.

The HR515 bill is listed below along with related stories.

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/515

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-authorized-create-angel-watch-center-expand-child-protection-efforts-following

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/parents-girl-inspired-megan-law-recall-tragedy-article-1.1881551

 

 

Operation Sun Bear

Operation Sun Bear

3 Rescued – 2 Arrested

The owners of a Vietnamese café in Phnom Penh, Cambodia were suspected of serving up much more than food at their little roadside business last month. Unusual activity in the area caught the eye of Operation Underground Railroad’s NGO* partner Agape International Missions (AIM)

and an investigation began.

With O.U.R.’s support, AIM joined forces with the Municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police to investigate the odd circumstances involving the café and together concluded that it was operating as a front for a brothel. Further investigation showed that three girls were being held by the husband and wife team and sold for sex to approximately 15 to 20 buyers each day.

On February 17, 2016 enough evidence had been gathered, and O.U.R.’s partners, in conjunction with local law enforcement, raided the café. Three girls were rescued from the brothel and the owners were arrested.

At this time it is unclear where the three minors came from, although it is suspected that they may be from Vietnam. They are now in an aftercare facility where they are being helped to recover from their ordeal. Here, they will find their strength and be less vulnerable to traffickers in the future. In addition, they are learning new skills that will help them survive and thrive as they move forward in their lives.

An O.U.R. jump team member who works along side AIM says that it is not uncommon to see young girls being trafficked across the border in Cambodia. He says, “A lot of them come from Vietnam or from rural hill tribes on the Laos, Vietnam boarders of Cambodia. They are usually promised some type of legitimate work initially, but once they get to the capital, they are forced into the prostitution industry instead.” Those who have enslaved these young girls usually hold their passports and give them new identities, making it nearly impossible for them to escape.

The owners of the Vietnamese café in Phnom Penh have been charged with child sex trafficking and related offenses, and are currently in prison awaiting trial. O.U.R./AIM’s legal team is helping the three victims and will represent them throughout the legal process to ensure the traffickers pay for what they have done and prevent them from doing it to others.

“Operation Underground Railroad is very fortunate to have established this relationship with AIM,” says O.U.R. Founder and CEO Tim Ballard. “AIM has been working in Cambodia for many years and has a very good reputation.” Working in partnership with other NGOs is very cost effective since they already have a presence in the country.

*NGO: Non Governmental Organization is usually, although not always, is non-profit.

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

 

 

 

Operation Jungle Cat

Operation Jungle Cat

9 Rescued  –  3 Arrested

They have no passports, no birth certificates and no country. They are considered people with no identification. Stateless. And they live in one of the most dangerous places on earth: The Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia.

This worn-torn part of the world, is made up from parts of Myanmar (formerly Burma), Laos and Thailand, and is known mostly for its opium and heroin production. The area is heavily littered with land mines due to the last 50-60 years of civil unrest and its people are chewed up and spit out by heartless taskmasters.

Children born into such circumstances have little hope of escaping a life in either the drug or sex trade. It is for this very reason that Operation Underground Railroad’s brave jump team dared to venture into this lawless land.

“This was an extremely dangerous operation and we worked very closely with the Thai Border Police and the Thai Army Rangers,” said the team leader. “We also had some special contacts that we’ve worked with previously, who helped us on the borders with the investigation.”

One such contact alerted O.U.R. to victims of sex trafficking who were being held by a Burmese father and son team. The victims had recently come from refugee camps in Bangladesh and Bhutan and were tricked into believing they had found good fortune.

“They are coerced with promises of schooling or a good job,” said O.U.R.’s team leader. There are safe houses or holding houses the traffickers use near and around the border to hold the victims.”

Once at the border, the traffickers use various means to get their victims across and into other countries where they can be sold.

“They will dress these children in school uniforms, pretending they are being sent across the border for school. Once on the other side, they are usually sold from there to a brothel owner or a labor trafficker,” said O.U.R.’s team leader. “They are also used to carry drugs across the border.”

In Operation Jungle Cat, O.U.R. worked very closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of the children as well as our operatives. It was a very tense and dangerous mission, which led to a total of nine victims being rescued.

It is not unusual in third world countries for younger people and their parents to be fed a story of opportunity for school or success or employment. They are so desperate for that hope that they become vulnerable to predators. Then families who were already barely making ends meet do not have the means or ability to search for their children or convince officials to spend limited resources on these missing children cases. The children resign themselves to participate due to the severe threats of abuse and retribution they have experienced at the hand of the traffickers. The added transfer across a conflicted region leads to a lack of follow-through on such cases. The children truly are lost between government agencies and there are little resources for these cases.

Determining where to place the rescued victims of Operation Jungle Cat was complicated in this lawless land with stateless people. Some were returned to Myanmar while some of the children are in Thailand where members of O.U.R. will follow up with them. Three traffickers were arrested and will most likely serve a minimum of ten years in prison.

Kudos to O.U.R.’s jump team members and all those who risk their lives to find and rescue these victims of sex trafficking. Well done!

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr